The University of Reading has a zero tolerance policy to bullying, harassment and discrimination, meaning any form of offensive behaviour from or towards its staff and students is unacceptable.
To raise awareness of the policy, the University launched its #NeverOK campaign in collaboration with RUSU during November 2018, which is still ongoing today.
Commenting on the initial objectives of the campaign current Dean for Diversity and Inclusion at UoR, Dr Allán Laville said: “The original aim was to raise awareness of the Universities UK Taskforce report, which examined violence against women, harassment and hate crime affecting university students.”
And relatively new to his position as Dean, Allán expressed the important role he believes #NeverOK to occupy in the University community. He said: “In order to have an inclusive and respectful community, we must all acknowledge and support #NeverOK.
“For me, this is closely aligned with Stonewalll’s #NoBystanders approach! ‘I will never be a bystander to hateful language and abuse. If I hear it, I will call it out and report it, and if I can, I will stop it’.
“#NeverOK means that it is never OK to harass, bully or discriminate against another person. The core part of #NeverOK is respect for others, which should be a part of everyday life.”
Since its launch, #NeverOK has helped to reassure students about their rights on campus at the same time as creating an environment in which they feel safe and respected in.
Dr Laville added: “#NeverOK has been very successful in raising awareness of these important issues within our staff and student community. It is great to hear people refer to the campaign in daily conversation.”
Also responsible for the #NeverOK campaign, among many other student safety initiatives at the University, is current full-time Welfare Officer for RUSU, Gemma King. She said: “Students can report incidents by emailing email@example.com after which they will be contacted by a member of the welfare team who will support and guide them to further support.
“If you are feeling anxious or vulnerable when walking across campus on your own there is also a chaperone service available. Call 0118 378 7799 and security can watch you on CCTV to ensure you are safe on your journey.”
RUSU also run several other campaigns throughout the year which are designed to promote student welfare and safety both on and around campus. These include Ask for Angela, a lifeline for students in dangerous and uncomfortable situations on nights out, and I ♥ Consent; a campaign promoting the importance of consent before sex.
Responding to the Students’ Union’s strengthening safety measures, one student said: “I think that at a university where people of all ages and backgrounds study, it is extremely important for their safety to be acknowledged.
“No one wants to feel unsafe or uncomfortable on campus, and I think that the increasing campaigns and services providing awareness are doing an excellent job- it can hopefully only keep getting better!”
For more information about the university’s welfare services visit student.reading.ac.uk/essentials/_support-and-wellbeing or go to www.rusu.co.uk/advice/welfare for details of organisations that provide advice and support on a number of issues affecting students.
Please remember, there is always someone who can listen.